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The corporeity of the emotions. Learn to think from the body

marzo 31, 2021
In the educational, professional and personal fields, the importance of emotional competences is determined by the development of scientific research in neuroscience. Neuroscience constitutes a new epistemological paradigm that allows analyzing and explaining intelligent human behavior. The activity carried out throughout the body is key in the brain-neural configuration.

1.- Emotions

Emotions for Didier (2009) are “a reaction to an external event that involves disorders in the body space and an expressive response organized by the brain”.

Emotions are the manifestation of evaluations or value judgments either general or specific; background or situation; that for Nussbaum (2012) contain three relevant ideas: the idea of ​​a cognitive assessment or evaluation; the idea of ​​one’s own goals and important projects; and the idea of ​​the relevance of external objects as elements in the scheme of one’s own objectives. The aforementioned author sums it up by saying that “the emotions of a creature summarize the way in which she figures her own identity in the world, the sense of what her individuality is and what she is capable of for her individuality”.

Following Damasio (2005) we can classify them into three categories: background, they are intrinsically developed in each moment of our life; primary emotions, constant in different cultures (fear, anger, disgust …); social emotions, typical of the group in which the person is (sympathy, shame, guilt …).

Among the general characteristics of emotions we find that, like thought, they have an object; which they not only perceive, but also has relevance in terms of the role it plays in their personal life. This object has an intentional character, as it results from the personal way of perceiving and interpreting the object. Depending on the reality of each individual, their particular way of seeing it depends. From which it is deduced that emotions do not include only the ways of perceiving the object, but the beliefs that the individual develops about it.

The difference between emotions and feelings is reflected by Damasio (2010) when he states that “While emotions are perceptions that are accompanied by ideas and modes of thought, emotional feelings, on the other hand, are mainly perceptions of what our body does while expressing the emotion, together with perceptions of the state of our mind during that same period of time. weather”.

Therefore, emotions pose, in general, three problems: 1) they reveal us as vulnerable to events that we do not control; 2nd) they focus on our own objectives, whose perspective we make predominant, losing the necessary objectivity; 3rd) are characterized from the ambivalence of different interpretations towards their object.

For Neussman (2012) “emotions are necessary to provide the developing child with a map of the world”, organizing values ​​(goodness-badness, etc.), knowledge of their origin; marking its ubiquity and its temporality; as well as being able to establish the limits of its ideal control, having an adaptive value. When these emotions are unduly known and developed they can generate a “dissonance with the self”, which engender personal problems and inappropriate projections, presenting dissonant manifestations in the social context.

The in-depth study currently being carried out on the brain seems to place (in a very general way, as we should talk about neurotransmitters, etc.) in the areas of the frontal lobe (prefrontal cortex), gray matter and the limbic system; those associated with movement, emotion, and attention. These regions appear to be permanently modified with experience and central state fluctuations, being unstable and influenced by evolutionary pressure. It is what is called the brain plasticity, where not only maturation occurs but also neurological processes such as pruned or prunning. Just as we must refer to the existence of the so-called mirror memories, base of many learnings.

Learning leads to functional and structural changes in cellular networks, including chemical communication points or neuronal synapses. What comes to reflect that the brain (corporeal matter) experiences what happens in the body, but it is also the center of our action in the world.

2.- The corporeity

But we cannot see our bodies only as physical structures, but as lived and experiential structures. Hence the necessary rethinking as explained by Merlau-Ponty of the embodiment of knowledge, cognition and experience. Corporeality has a double meaning: it encompasses the body as a lived experiential structure and the body as the context or sphere of cognitive mechanisms.

For Valera (2005) the mind-body problem “It is not simply a theoretical speculation but originally a practical and lived experience that involves the full concurrence of the mind and the body. The theoretical is only a reflection of this lived experience.”

In Zubiri (1986) taking body is taking actuality, which he calls moment of corporeity, the body is no longer just presence, it is being “Present in reality, and in that character of actuality expressivity is founded. Expression is a consequence of corporeity.” Define corporeality as “the experience of doing, feeling, thinking and wanting”. In bold synthesis we could say that it is the body in contact with reality, the lived body. And it qualifies that “the confrontation with human reality determines the fundamental habit, the fundamental way of confronting man with things” that make up your mind, the way you are in reality.

The apprehension, his radical act, of this reality – of something – is intelligence. And knowledge is a later mode of intellection. To know is to understand, to understand. Things, says Zubiri, “They are apprehended as reality, it is not sensitivity, it is intelligence.”

It qualifies this information by affirming that one thing is to feel, another to understand, “to understand is after feeling” (2004). Hence he leads us to his concept of sentient intelligence, “the characteristic of sentient intelligence is to apprehend the thing in the impression of reality “. And reiterates “the impression is sentient, the reality is intellectual”.

3.- The experience

At the time of taking action in educational work, we propose to carry it out by facilitating what we call “experiences“. For Oscar Vilarroya (2002) the axis of his proposal is the “experiential experience” which defines as “experiential snapshots” spontaneous, synchronous, vivid and evocable that function as the operative units that decipher the crucial layers and the relationships between intimate situations of the brain-mind.

Through experiences the individual experiences and learns, in conscious and unconscious processes; of which of the latter, generally, can not verbalize or express anything. The content of these experiences is conditioned by the object, the environment and the situation.

The meaning of each experience has the basic function of facilitating its understanding by establishing its content, as a unit of knowledge: its focus, where; your profile, what stands out; its background, the context in which it occurs. Through sensitive experience, it generates a virtual world that completes its integration. Recognizing that “The experience is particular, but the cognitive system establishes relationships between the elements of the different experiences and the experiences in general according to certain criteria.”

These experiences and their records constitute the bases of the cognitive system. The experience leaves dynamic traces that are related to each other, not adjusting to precise or determined schemes. It is through the experience and the relationship with the environment that the contents of the experiences are generated. This content implies adopting a personal point of view both to see the world and to select our performance in it.

Our experience has shown us that the educational process facilitates more learning in the way of teaching than focusing on the strict acquisition of knowledge.

4.- Expression and communication

Emotions are directly related to human expressive behavior, and their content is related to the established communicative tradition. As Damasio (2005) specifies “Emotions are actions or movements, many of them public, visible to others because they occur in the face, the voice, in specific behaviors.” The language basic and fundamental is the non verbal, because “Much of human communication takes place at a level below consciousness, in which words have only indirect relevance, it is estimated that no more than 35 percent of the social meaning of any conversation corresponds to the spoken words” (Davis. 1976), being completed with the rest of languages ​​(word, music …).

But the rationale for the importance of nonverbal expression is due to that “all human emotions are bodily processes” (Nusbaum,); as well as that changes in body structures imply emotional and mental changes, as collected by T. Bertherat (1980) “The emotional function and all the behavior of the being cannot stop changing when its body structure changes. The structure is the behavior.”

But we must also reflect, according to our practice, the importance of verbal language. The simple phenomenon of verbalizing an experience can change the perception and sensations of the experiences experienced.

5. Conclusions

The neuroscientific construct of emotions, corporeity, experience and expression and communication leads us to propose a work plan for the training of teachers: “LEARN TO THINK FROM THE BODY “. This activity of training teachers in competencies, which has been experienced through years of work in course formats, is the practical development of everything previously exposed and is based on basic criteria of Neuroscience.